Four more suits filed against MSU

By Kyla Asbury | Jan 3, 2013

CHARLESTON – Four more lawsuits have been filed against Mountain State University regarding its alleged failure to keep students informed about its accreditation.

Former university president Charles H. Polk and the Mountain State University Board of Trustees were also named as defendants in the suits.

Megan Suddreth, Kristen King, Rebecca Phlegar and Ramona Boyer were students on Mountain State University’s nursing program, according to four complaints filed Dec. 21 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

The four plaintiffs claim MSU failed to keep them informed regarding the nursing program’s accreditation status.

When the students were admitted to the program, they were informed the program was accredited by National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission and West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses, but later discovered the nursing program did not have full accreditation status, according to the suits.

The students claim that in 2008, the NLNAC voted to place the nursing program at MSU on warning and scheduled the next evaluation visit for spring 2010.

After the spring 2010 visit by the NLNAC, the commission voted to deny continuing accreditation to the BSN program, and the defendants failed to inform the students of the accreditation denial and encouraged them to continue paying for and participating in the program, according to the suits.

The students claim on Nov. 12, 2010, the West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses voted unanimously to require that MSU’s BSN program cease and desist all admissions to all nursing programs/pathways or any other program representing progression toward a nursing degree for a minimum of 15 months.

The defendants were allegedly negligent in keeping the students informed and breached the contract with the plaintiffs by failing to provide the education opportunity promised, according to the suits.

The students are seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. They are being represented by Stephen P. New and Douglas Adkins.

The cases have been assigned to a visiting judge.

In July, the Higher Learning Commission said it was withdrawing Mountain State’s accreditation. They listed “systemic breakdowns in leadership, program oversight, integrity issues and failing to provide accreditation information to students” as the reasons for the withdrawal.

On Aug. 1, the University of Charleston announced it is taking over Mountain State University’s campuses in Beckley and Martinsburg.

Fourteen lawsuits were filed in Jefferson Circuit Court on Aug. 6, by students who claim the university engaged in widespread criminal enterprise and racketeering activity.

The university only has a 2.5 percent graduation rate for students seeking bachelor’s degrees, which is the lowest graduation rate of any private school in the Chronicle of High Education’s analysis.

In 2009, Polk’s salary was $1,843,746, which was 3.5 percent of the university’s annual budget and was the highest percentage of a college budget received by any president of a private university that year, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 12-C-2522, 12-C-2523, 12-C-2524, 12-C-2525

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